Thursday, April 05, 2007

Gary Hart says some stupid things sometimes

Today Gary Hart posted a piece on Huffington Post entitled "Letter to Democrats on U.S.-Russia Relationship" that included this wonderful paragraph:

"Second, we have a mutual interest in defeating terrorism. Those interests have caused the Russians to conduct prolonged military actions in Chechnya and the United States to conduct equally prolonged military occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. Clearly, there are differences in methodology, with the Russians using much more brutal means, but the residents of Grosny and of Falluja may not see that much difference. Though opposing our invasion of Iraq, the Russians fully endorsed our invasion of Afghanistan (where they themselves had a rather unpleasant experience). If we are not fully exploiting Russian intelligence networks in pursuit of this common interest, it is to our detriment."

Wow, endorsing the Chechen wars that Yeltsin and Putin pursued as being "fighting terrorism". And advocating collaboration with the Russians on fighting terrorism. Hart is a knowledgable man, so I would assume that if he hasn't been living under a rock for the last ten years that he must know that the campaign against Chechnya is one of the bloodiest atrocities against a people that's been committed, with Grozny, the capital, literally being reduced to rubble, massacres taking place, and in Russia itself Chechnyans and other Caucasian people being rounded up, beaten, and deported. So...collaboration! You'll help us destroy Iraq, we'll help you eliminate the Chechen people. Iraqis and Chechen are both Muslim peoples and so bad bad bad.

I don't quite understand what he means by the levelling of Grozny and the destruction of Falluja being perceived the same by both people. They probably were perceived the same by both people....because they both were outrageous assaults on civillian populations that left thousands dead. But, far from using this as evidence to object to U.S.-Russian "anti-terrorist" collaboration, Hart seems to think that it's something in favor of such an arrangement. Granted, the Russians are more brutal, he says, but those brown people think all massive assaults on civilian populations are brutal---they can't understand the Realpolitik that might make the Russians destroy a whole area. At least that's what Gary Hart seems to be saying.

Sure, we can overlook little things like that in the interest of "anti-terrorism", just like Cold Warriors were willing, in the name of Realpolitik, to overlook things like death squads in Chile.

But the it gets better:

"Fifth, Russia is neighbor to several Islamic states, former Soviet republics, and whether one subscribes to a Huntingtonian thesis of civilization clashes or merely civilization frictions, Russia occupies an unrivaled strategic position on the margins of a cultural divide. Further, it occupies a strategic position in Northeast Asia, particularly with regard to North Korea and China. Russia allied with the West and sharing a common international agenda can only be in our interest."

Wow, couldn't believe he said that. So essentially Russia is important because it could help us dominate Central Asia and the Middle East as well as threaten China. Oh, and North Korea too, forgot about that. I'm sure North Korea, a destitute state perennially on the verge of collapse, is much more important in these people's minds than countering China.

If you accept Samuel Huntington's clash of civilization thesis....if you're a flaming racist, then maybe it makes sense.

But there's more

"Except in recent years when American foreign policy assumed a theological aura, we have consistently sought self-interested relations with nations with whom we did not always agree. The late Jean Kirkpatrick is notable for having distinguished between authoritarian states, with whom we could collaborate regardless of their undemocratic natures, and totalitarian states with whom we could have nothing to do. Even today, in the era of a foreign policy based on good and evil, we maintain productive relations with highly authoritarian states (including former Soviet republic) that are guilty of no more undemocratic behavior than Russia.

We have seldom if ever demanded absolute conformity with strict standards of behavior as the price for bilateral relationships. Yet that seems to be exactly what the Bush administration and the Council on Foreign Relations report presume. Once again, why this is peculiarly the case with Russia remains a mystery never fully explained."

Well, this sort of speaks for itself. Jean Kirkpatrick was notable for supporting Reagan's foreign policy in Central America during the eighties, when we helped the butchers of El Salvador, Guatemala, and the Contras. Here's a piece of a Wiki article about her

"At the 1984 Republican National Convention, Kirkpatrick delivered the memorable "Blame America First" speech, in which she praised the foreign policy of the Reagan administration and excoriated the leadership of the "San Francisco Democrats""

and:

"She was also on the advisory board of the National Association of Scholars, a group that works against what it regards as a liberal bias in academia, with its emphasis on multicultural education and affirmative action."

What a wonderful woman to be taking foreign policy cues from. But there's even more in the Hart article.

"The new realities of the 21st century require us to seek all the help we can get. These realities include: proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; jihadi terrorism; failed and failing states; tribalism, ethnic nationalism, and religious fundamentalism; the decline of nation-state sovereignty; integrating markets; climate change; and the threat of pandemics. These realities share two characteristics: they cannot be addressed by military means alone, and they cannot be resolved by one nation alone, including the world's only superpower. We are going to need all the help we can get. We do not have the luxury of dismissing other nations who share these concerns and who have the potential to add value to our efforts to resolve these challenges."

But he doesn't like Bush. Hart makes that very clear. He supports all the things that Bush does, uses the same language, but, damn it, he would use a kinder and gentler foreign policy to achieve those objectives.

I was going to write something about how he supports the idea of basically westernizing Russia, no matter what the Russians think about it, but compared to the quotes above that seems kind of less important.

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